For months the status of the joint federal-state investigation into the so-called “Lexington Ring” has been the subject of intense speculation in South Carolina. In fact we’ve been told on repeated occasions that indictments against the leaders of the ring were said to be “imminent.”
Yet each time the buzz surrounding this investigation fizzles out … leaving Palmetto State residents to wonder whether this cabal of crooked cops and corrupt politicians will ever be brought to justice.
For those of you unfamiliar with the “Ring,” it burst into the headlines a year ago when a Lexington, S.C. councilman named Danny Frazier was surreptitiously recorded detailing its inner workings to a prospective client. These recordings were provided to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) last spring by a former member of the ring – a ex-magistrate who claims he once issued favorable rulings from the bench on behalf of the underground video poker industry. Frazier originally denied making the statements contained in the recordings, but later changed his tune and said he fabricated them in an effort to make himself appear influential.
Among the names dropped by Frazier on the tapes? Lexington, S.C. Sheriff Jimmy Metts, Columbia, S.C. mayor Steve Benjamin, former S.C. Senator Jakie Knotts (RINO-Lexington) and S.C. Senator Ronnie Cromer (RINO-Newberry).
FITS has been following this saga every since it broke last August. Along with WIS TV 10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.), we’ve been driving coverage of the “Ring” after The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times – the outlet which originally broke the story – mysteriously backed off of its investigation (and destroyed the evidence it received).
So … is anything ever going to come of this scandal? Or will it be yet another example of “Palmetto Justice” – in which flagrant lawlessness on the part of our state’s leaders gets swept under the rug.
According to one of our well-placed sources in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it is the former. According to this source, indictments against members of the “Lexington Ring” are indeed coming – but neither the U.S. Attorney nor SLED chief can move on them until “another file” is closed.
“We have a process and we are following that process,” our source said.
This source declined to discuss the “other file,” but it is generally believed to be the ongoing investigation into corruption at S.C. State University, home of the spectacularly failed Jim Clyburn Transportation Center.
Sources at SLED confirmed that indictments in the “Lexington Ring” case are forthcoming – and that they would likely be announced “in stages.”
Again, none of our sources would discuss the timing of these indictments.
In possibly related news, SLED confirmed this week that it was in the process of seizing more than 700 video poker machines from a warehouse in Swansea, S.C. – one of the largest raids the agency has ever conducted. The machines were being seized as part of an “ongoing investigation,” according to the agency.
As we’ve noted from the beginning of our coverage of the “Ring,” we continue to believe that all forms of gambling should be legalized in South Carolina. In fact these scandals have only heightened our resolve to integrate them into the free market – eliminating the current government-run gambling monopoly (as well as all of this backdoor corruption).